Last weekend, the theatre department presented their show “Into a Void, Out From the Light” to four separate audiences in Stansbury Theatre. The show was devised in collaboration with several seniors — Flora Aubin, Samantha Torres and Illyana Yates — for their senior capstone projects, as well as the J. Thomas and Julie E. Hurvis Professor of Theatre and Drama and Professor of Theatre Arts, Timothy X. Troy, and a company of performers.
Upon looking at the program, audience members could see that this production was labelled as a “Dance-Theatre Collage.” This distinction informed how the audience should approach the piece. It was clearly a brainchild of many different people, as was illustrated in the collection of scenes that swing in a pendulum-like manner from joyful to strange and sometimes to a place that felt almost apocalyptic and solemn. Because of the erratic nature of the piece, the audience was urged to view separate scenes almost in their own vacuums, as there were whispers of resonances, but not quite solid connections between the scenes that made up this show.
The set featured three large panels set at the base with boxes that slid out to accommodate the actors standing at different levels. When backlit, silhouettes of the performers could be seen through the transparent fabric that stretched over window-like panes. These performers scattered on and off the stage, clad in loose, ombre-dyed jumpsuits that were designed and created by Lawrence’s own costume studio. The brightly colored costumes in opposition with a set that was much more muted, added to the energy the performance sought to bring.
Aside from being a collaboration between cast members and crew, it was apparent throughout the show that the audience was meant to be pulled right into the action as well and contribute their feelings to the mix already on the stage. At the beginning of the piece the audience was asked to breathe with the performers throughout their performance, and it was likely that the entire audience was painstakingly aware of their breath and if it was in unison with everyone else.
Torres’ section, where she wielded a stick that she balanced and swung in front of her, made the audience lean in to hear more. Her recounting of coming to Lawrence hit home with others who have had similar experiences of insecurity and growth. Another notable piece of the show was a nerve-wracking solo section by senior Thomas Dubnicka, who utilized the microphone and its noise by dragging it along the floor, slamming it against his leg and whirling it around in the air over his head. The tension from the audience was palpable; the mistreatment of the microphone brought an anxiousness associated with how unceremoniously he used it compared to its usual function.
The piece also held collage aspects in the way it brought in sound. Old radio audio, including but not limited to the moon landing audio, was scattered throughout the production. There were also readings of poetry and even of a Turkish recipe that was read by one performer and acted out by the rest. In each aspect of the piece, the performers did just as the program asserted, as they worked to “fuse the alchemy of movement, sound, and light.”